Fish Post

Releases – August 30, 2018

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The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program will begin construction this week on two estuarine artificial reefs.

Later this month or in early September, the Artificial Reef Program plans to sink a tugboat in the ocean off Pine Knoll Shores.

The estuarine reefs are new reefs that will be constructed using concrete reef balls, one in Bogue Sound just outside of Spooner’s Creek in Morehead City (AR-380) and the other near the mouth of the White Oak River in Cedar Point (AR-381).

The Artificial Reef Program will sink the retired tugboat, Fort Fisher, on the existing AR-320. This reef site already contains concrete bridge rubble, steel bridge trusses, and a 140-foot vessel.

Boaters and other water users should use caution if they see the construction activity in the below areas: AR-380 at 34 43.110’ N (latitude) and 76 48.020’ W (longitude); AR-381 at 34 40.419’ N (latitude) and 77 06.532’ W (longitude); and AR-320 at 34 39.533’ N (latitude) and 76 48.417’ W (longitude).

An artificial reef is a manmade underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom. In North Carolina, they serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species.

The division maintains 68 artificial reefs, located from estuarine waters to 38 miles from shore. They are situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state.

For more information, contact Artificial Reef Program Coordinator Jordan Byrum at (252) 808-8036 or


The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted August 16 to begin development of Amendment 2 to the North Carolina Shrimp Fishery Management Plan.

Amendment 2 to the Shrimp Plan will include the following general focus areas: (1) Continue minimizing waste and enhance economic value of the shrimp resource by promoting more efficient harvesting practices; (2) Further reduce mortality of non-target species of finfish and crustaceans and protected, threatened, and endangered species; (3) Promote the protection, restoration, and enhancement of habitats and environmental quality; and (4) Encourage research and education to improve the understanding of the overall cumulative impacts of shrimp trawl bycatch on fish population dynamics.

State law requires the Division of Marine Fisheries to review fishery management plans every five years. Amendment 1 to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan was adopted in 2015 and scheduled for review in 2020.

The decision to move forward the Shrimp Plan review schedule means the Division of Marine Fisheries will be developing four fishery management plans this fiscal year. Three of them — the Blue Crab, Southern Flounder, and Shrimp plans — are for top state fisheries. The division is also developing an amendment to the Estuarine Striped Bass Plan jointly with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

In other business, the commission:

(1) Voted to continue the current management measures for striped mullet, as recommended by the division. Amendment 1 to the N.C. Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan requires the division to initiate further analysis of the striped mullet data if commercial landings fall below 1.13 million pounds or above 2.76 million pounds in any given year. In 2016, commercial landings fell, triggering the analysis. A 2018 update of the state’s 2013 striped mullet stock assessment found that overfishing is not occurring; however, it cannot be determined if the stock is overfished.

(2) Elected Chuck Laughridge as vice chairman.

(3) Set the 2018-2019 Standard Commercial Fishing License Eligibility Pool cap at 500.

(4) Approved the goal and objectives for Amendment 3 to the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan.

(5) Agreed to write a letter to U.S. Coast Guard stating concern about the collision of two trawlers in North Carolina waters and asking the Coast Guard to be more vigilant in ensuring such vessels are following regulations regarding safety equipment.

Prior to the meeting, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Mike Regan swore in new Marine Fisheries Commission members, Chairman Rob Bizzell, Mike Blanton, and Tom Hendrickson.


The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding fishermen that there are limited reasons for transferring a commercial fishing license to another person.

Under state law, transfer of a Standard Commercial Fishing License must be made by the Division of Marine Fisheries at the request of a licensee and only under the following circumstances: (1) To an immediate family member; (2) To an administrator or executor of a deceased licensee’s estate; (3) From an administrator or executor of a deceased licensee to a surviving immediate family member of the deceased licensee; (4) From a surviving member of a deceased licensee to a third-party purchaser of the deceased licensee’s vessel; (5) From a licensee who is retiring from commercial fishing to a third-party purchaser of the licensee’s fishing vessel.

Internet-advertised commercial fishing license sales and business-to-business transfers are not authorized.

Those who wish to obtain a Standard Commercial Fishing License, in circumstances not meeting the above criteria, may apply for a license through the Standard Commercial Fishing License Eligibility Pool process. The Eligibility Board meets two to three times a year to consider license applications.

For directions on applying for a commercial fishing license, go to and click on the Eligibility Pool Application link.

For more information, contact Stephanie McInerny, Division License and Statistics Section chief, at (252) 808-8099 or


The 40th annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament is right around the corner. This year’s tournament will be October 4–6 at the Southport Marina. The U.S. Open is one of the largest king mackerel tournaments on the east coast of the United States and part of the SKA (Southern Kingfish Association) Tournament Trail.

In 2017, the tournament attracted 470 boats and paid out over $270,000. The tournament has an all-cash guaranteed prize structure that is not based on participation numbers. It pays 55 places in its primary prize category, including $25,000 for the largest king mackerel.

There are also 41 sponsors, such as the Primary Sponsor (Southport Marina), Grand Patron sponsors (BEMC, SiriusXM Marine, Wilmington’s Big Talker & Garmin), and 36 more who add supplementary cash prizes to the event.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the tournament will present the first 425 boats registered one Boone Monster Insulated Fish Bag and a 5 gallon bucket.

If you don’t fish, still come out and join the fun and entertainment on both Thursday and Saturday nights. On Thursday night, catch The Groove Pirates from 4:00 pm-7:00 pm playing rock, blues, country, and oldies. Island Fever will be taking the stage Saturday night from 4:30 pm-7:00 pm with a variety of your favorite tunes.

If you can’t make it to the tournament, make sure you check out streaming weigh-ins at the scales live on Friday from 2:00 pm-5:00 pm and Saturday from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm. You can pick up the link to the live feed at

Friday morning from 7:00 am-9:00 am is a great time to watch the excitement as the boats rush to checkout from the Cape Fear River, Little River Inlet, Holden Beach Marina, Masonboro Inlet, Sunset Harbor Wildlife Ramp, and Snows Cut.

The action gets exciting again from 3:00 pm-4:00 pm when the boats line up to weigh in at Southport Marina before the scales close. Have some refreshments, buy a t-shirt, and enjoy the fun.

Tournament details are available at, or for a brochure contact the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce by calling (910) 457-5787 or (800) 457-6964, or by e-mailing